Dr. Howells: The application is currently under consideration in conjunction with other Government departments. A decision on the licence application will be reached as quickly as possible consistent with the need to give full consideration to the issue involved.
Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the progress of tests currently being carried out to assess the medical benefits of cannabis. 
Ms Hewitt: The Medical Research Council is supporting a clinical trial to look at the efficacy of cannabis extracts in the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients. The trial was announced in December 1999 and is being run by Dr. John Zajicek (Derriford Hospital, Plymouth) and the MRC Clinical Trials Unit.
The trial is making good progress; local ethical committee approval has been obtained in principle and an application has been made to the Medicines Control Agency for the appropriate licence. The cannabinoids will be given exclusively in capsule form. Recruitment of patients is planned to start later in the summer. The results will be available in about 2.5 years, after formal scientific assessment of the results has taken place.
Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his estimate of the increase in energy consumption in commercial buildings, including the office sector, in the last 15 years for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hutton: As part of its comprehensive programme of action to tackle smoking, the Government are taking a number of measures which will protect children against the dangers of tobacco. We will shortly announce measures to
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16. Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what change there has been in the number of surgical procedures carried out by independent healthcare providers on behalf of the NHS in the last three years. 
Ms Stuart: This information is not collected centrally. However, in the last three years the total spent outside the National Health Service on all in-patient and day cases (surgical and medical) has risen from £86 million to £103 million, an increase of around £17 million. This remains around 1 per cent. of the total NHS spend on the same cases in the same period.
17. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will introduce new guidelines to help young children with faltering growth, taking account of recent research published by the Children's Society. 
Yvette Cooper: The research undertaken by the Children's Society provides an overview of current practices and the effectiveness of interventions. It gives useful information for professionals working with children. The Department, in providing grant aid, has supported the society in establishing the Feeding Matters programme. Sharing the successful outcomes of these programmes and projects such as Sure Start will enable more families to receive this support.
18. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received on the delivery of patient care through primary care trusts; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Denham: There are currently over 90,000 doctors working in the National Health Service; 4,000 more than there were in 1997. Money we made available from the first Comprehensive Spending Review will enable the NHS to take on up to 7,000 more doctors by March 2002.
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20. Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what conclusions he has drawn from interim analysis of the national health service census forms returned by residents of the Trent region. 
Mr. Denham: Of almost 29,000 suggestions made by members of the public within the Trent region, it can be concluded that their main concerns are the need for more capacity (27 per cent.), "doing things differently" (18 per cent.) and waiting (16 per cent.). These are consistent with the top three concerns expressed by the public nationally.
Yvette Cooper: Worcestershire Health Authority has substantially increased its spending on intermediate care in the current financial year. During the last 12 months a number of services have been developed and implemented within Worcestershire which have enabled patients to be cared for in clinically appropriate environments which meet their individual needs.
Mr. Denham: Tackling hospital-acquired infection, including MRSA, underpins the priorities identified in the National Priorities Guidance. We have developed and issued national standards for infection control that place responsibility on Chief Executives of National Health Service trusts to deliver locally. Progress on compliance with these standards will be independently reviewed and monitored by both the Audit Commission and the Commission for Health Improvement.
Mr. Denham: The National Advisory Group for Scientists and Technicians has been charged with developing plans to improve work force planning, education, training and career development among that group of staff. The Department of Health is also developing a specific strategy for improving recruitment and retention, liaising closely with employers, professional bodies and trade unions to raise the profile of the work of scientists.
Yvette Cooper: South Staffordshire Health Authority has undertaken a wide ranging strategic review of services. Following this period of informal consultation, specific proposals will be presented for formal public
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25. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will ensure that, following diagnosis, persons with MS have access to a named consultant neurologist to help them manage their condition. 
Mr. Hutton: Multiple sclerosis can be very difficult to diagnose. The usual treatment path is for a patient to be referred to a consultant neurologist by their general practitioner. Once the relationship is established between the patient and the consultant, it would be normal for the patient, whenever it is clinically necessary, to continue seeing that consultant for the management of their condition.